How Can I Tell If My Internet Is Being Throttled?

Chyelle Dvorak
Contributing Writer, VPNs
Read More
February 10, 2022
2 min read

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If your videos aren’t loading, your games are lagging, and you sit for extremely long minutes waiting to visit a website, then it’s possible your internet is being throttled. Sometimes your ISP (internet service provider) will throttle your internet because you’ve reached your data cap. In other words, you reached your limit and have to pay extra to get more speed. It might also throttle your speed during times of high traffic.

Other times, it’s just because you don’t have a good ISP. Whatever the reason, here are some ways you can tell if your data is being throttled and some ideas for what you can do about it.

Run a free speed test

First, you’ll want to run a free online speed test to check how fast your internet is. Then you’ll need to compare how fast your data is to the speed you should have (or what’s advertised on your ISP’s website).

Here is the trick: some ISP’s guarantee up to 100 Mbps, for example, but that doesn’t mean it’s always that fast. Ask what your plan’s actual speed is, since maximum usually fluctuates.

If your speeds are lower than what you’re paying for, you’re either being throttled or there’s a problem with your service. In case of the later, you should contact your ISP to get your internet speeds worked out.

Why is my ISP throttling my internet?

When too many people are trying to connect to a network the network can become overcrowded. Some ISP's throttle certain connections to help clear up the congestion. Throttling is also pretty common when a customer has gone over their data usage limit within a specific billing period. 

Check your data cap

Usually, internet providers throttle your speed when you’ve reached your data cap. You can see how much data you’ve used by logging into your account or calling your ISP. If you’ve hit your cap, it’s safe to assume your internet is being throttled. You’ll need to wait for the cap to reset at the end of the billing period, pay for extra data, or upgrade your plan.

Is your internet fast enough?
Info Box

If your internet is dragging at a snail’s pace but you haven’t hit your data cap, your plan might not have the speeds you need. Check out our internet speed guide and calculate the bandwidth your household needs.

Run a free throttling test

There is such a thing as an internet throttling test. This one in particular, called The Internet Health Test, helps you determine whether your ISP is really hurting your web speed.1 Rather than just test your speed, a more in-depth throttling test looks at your ISP directly to detect if there are any problems.

Upgrade your internet

If you’re being throttled month after month, you’re probably not on a plan that works for you. You may need to seek out a plan or provider that offers higher data caps or even unlimited data.

If you’re not being throttled but battling sluggish internet nonetheless, check out our tips for speeding up your internet.

Top 5 ISPs with unlimited data
Provider
Data cap
Monthly price
Download speeds
Learn more
AT&T FiberUnlimited$55$180*3005000 Mbps
Earthlink Internet50 GBUnlimited$49.95$189.95105000 Mbps
Frontier Fiber InternetUnlimited$49.99$149.995002000 Mbps
Spectrum Internet®Unlimited$49.99$89.99^3001000 Mbps
Optimum InternetUnlimited$30$165°3005000 Mbps
Data effective 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes $ fees. Limited availability. May not be available in your area.
With a 12 month contract.
Requires Auto Pay or $5/mo. fee applies. Beginning April 2022, a printed bill fee of $2.99/mo. will apply, NY, PA and select customers excluded. A $10 fee applies when Internet is disconnected. Equipment return required at disconnection, up to $150 per device if not returned. Multi-Device Security covers up to 10 devices. Other applicable charges and additional services are extra. Service subject to availability. Cannot be combined with other offers. Other restrictions, Frontier policies and service terms apply.
^ For the first 12 months.
° Plus taxes, fees, and other charges.
Compare the best internet providers in your area.

Sources 

  1. Battle for the Internet, “The Internet Health Test.” Accessed November 25, 2020.
Chyelle Dvorak
Written by
Chyelle Dvorak
Chyelle works as a freelance writer for The Daily Beast and edited articles for Forbes, Inc.com, Fox News and other review sites. Chyelle tests, writes, and researches products and services related to internet consumption. She found her passion for public speaking and writing in her childhood when she won the Voice of Democracy speech and essay competition. Chyelle has a degree in International Relations from Crown College, Minnesota. Outside of work, Chyelle loves to spend time reading, kayaking, and running.

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